Gamma Knife radiosurgery can cause a multitude of side effects, including brain swelling, nausea, numbness, seizures or weakness. The procedure may cause additional side effects depending on pre-existing medical conditions or in pregnant women. After a Gamma Knife procedure, patients should inform their doctors if they experience a headache unrelieved by medication, seizures, or new or worsened weakness, numbness or vision problems, notes the Columbia University Medical Center.
Doctors use Gamma Knife radiosurgery to treat brain tumors, blood vessel defects and various neurological problems. The procedure does not involve an actual incision. Its name comes from its ability to achieve the same objectives as a surgery in a similar way. The procedure precisely focuses many beams of gamma radiation on a specific problem spot, such as a tumor. This may cause temporary hair loss in the treated spot as an additional side effect, notes the Columbia University Medical Center.
The effects of Gamma Knife radiosurgery can take months to manifest. For tumors, the procedure works by destroying the tumor's DNA, stopping it from growing. For blood vessel defects, the radiation causes the vessel to seal and close. The procedure itself can take anywhere from several minutes to several hours depending on the location and nature of what is being treated, according to the Columbia University Medical Center.